Where would you find pasties, G-strings, and robed Supreme Court justices all in one room? Leaves a lot of room for speculation, eh?
Exotic dancers wearing hardly anything (if a couple of nipple covering pieces of cloth and a tiny triangular patch to cover – well you know what - can be called anything) will commingle with judges of the highest court donning long flowing black robes at New York’s Public Theater.
But they are not really exotic dancers and certainly not members of the Supreme Court – they are actors in the World Premiere of “Arguendo,” an on stage production by John Collin’s Elevator Production Company.
“Arguendo” is a theatrical version of the entire “1991 Supreme Court Argument, Barnes v. Glen Theatre,” reports the Sept. 6, Wall Street Journal. The lawsuit challenged an Indiana public indecency law that barred go-go dancers from “appearing totally nude.”
According to the WSJ, Collins liked the idea not only because of the “absurd juxtaposition of robed justices, pastries, and G-strings,” but because it explored “the limits of free speech and the meaning of performance.”
Collins, using the actual audio recording of the case, has the “actors recreate every stutter, pause and interruption on the audio of the oral argument.”
Five actors carry the production, each taking on multiple roles. The brilliance of the production lies in the projections of actual text of the related court documents moving across a wall-length screen behind the actors.
In the end, the high court hands down its ruling, a 5-4 decision that upheld the statute barring go-go dancers from appearing nude. A character appears in “a gold lame thong” which is then stripped away. Perhaps a symbol of the irony of what constitutes art and what translates as sleeze!
The World Premiere of "Arguendo" is September 10, 2013 at the Public Theater in New York City.
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